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February's Journal

[17:00] I decided to get up a tiny bit earlier this morning, as I will for the next few days, to make Sunday morning when the clocks go forward just a little more tolerable. I have no problem going to bed a little earlier to compensate, if necessary. Cycling to work I was hopeful there'd be a solution to the three sever issue I was having with regard to RAID battery identification. Let's just say that today has been a fruitful, but not necessarily solution-ful day. I and the Dell engineer have ascertained under what circumstances the monitoring software thinks the RAID controller battery is missing, but not really why. I also got the chance to patch and update the two other servers out of the four this afternoon. One of them is definitely a bit weird somewhere inside as it had real trouble applying a pair of BIOS and RAID controller firmware updates and required some urgent calls to Dell to get going again. Apparently it's all patched and up to date now, but certain bits of software still don't act quite like they should. I'm always going to be a bit wary of it, even though it's one of the four newest servers we have.

Over lunch I ran a simple 30 minute recovery run to give me a bit more energy for tomorrow's much harder session. I'm going to head home now and have a nice quiet evening, hopefully with a slightly better quality of sleep tonight than last night.

[17:15] I've had an annoying day today, with the highlight only being my run out to do hill reps with Max for company. Three of the four newest physical servers I set up a few weeks ago have decided to announce that their RAID controller batteries are "Missing". This is not a good thing for a variety of technical reasons I won't go in to. I've spent the entire day in email communication with the manufacturer trying to upgrade firmwares and schedule reboots where possible. I'm pretty sure one of the servers has two issues going on which (after input from me) could result in it bricking itself when I finally do get to reboot it. So that'll be fun.

Nothing else has gone on, other than that I got an email from Rachel before she vanished into deepest Africa saying that she was OK and was taking her Malarone. I hope she comes back safely, and unbitten.

[17:20] A packed weekend started on Friday when I left as late as I could into the power down arrangements and jumped on a train to London. By the time I got there and to a hotel close to the Shard I was famished, so dropped off my bag and immediately power-walked to the nearest GBK for a burger, sweet potato fries, and a second burger. With a few newspapers from the hotel to read I had a great time just sitting around eating and drinking a refillable drink until I thought it might be time to give up the table (the place wasn't full). Back at the hotel I was practically asleep by the time Rachel arrived back from the play she'd been seeing with her parents (also staying at the hotel). In the morning we all had breakfast together, then relaxed a while before Rachel went to play hockey, her parents went to see another play, and I got on the Tube to Bermondsey to do my Saturday run session in Southwark Park. It was a pretty enjoyable one, although I was a bit disappointed in my GPS watch, which got a bit confused in the same place twice and gave some incorrect readings. Still, given the intensity of the session and how cold and snowy it was it was just good to get it done and get back to the hotel. I had a shower, and then managed to spend an hour trying to get the run data from the watch to Rachel's laptop without a cable (I assumed the Bluetooth functionality was more... functional than it actually was, and I had to re-enable Bluetooth on the laptop too), then had a bit of lunch just as Rachel arrived back, victorious, from her hockey game. We relaxed for a bit, then headed out with her parents for a really delicious mean at a meze place not too far from the hotel. When we got back I was in something of a food coma so went to bed while Rachel went to their room to catch up. On Sunday morning Rachel and I opted not to do the long run so early in the morning that we'd make it back for breakfast, so slept in for the last time in a while (more on that below) and then had a leisurely breakfast with her parents again. After that we all checked out, walked to a Tube station to see the parents off, then to a train station for Rachel and I to head back to Croydon. Fairly soon after we got back we headed out for a 2 hour 20 minute training run of increasing intensity which seemed to go fairly well, although the hills made perfect pacing impossible, which chafed a bit for me. We still had time for a nice lunch and for Rachel to pack for another Africa trip before we got the tram to the train station. Trains were delayed left and right by the weather so Rachel got an earlier one to Gatwick Airport and I eventually just got on a train to Victoria so I could make my way across London by Tube and make my train home. Happily I made it with plenty of time to spare and was able to cycle from my home station to my house in the dark on lovely empty (and dry) roads. The heating was working when I got home, too!

This morning I made a bit of an attempt to get in a little earlier to help with the restarts, but pretty much everything had already been done on Sunday afternoon. I dealt with a few hardware issues where I could and have been doing the IT equivalent of sweeping up the little bits for the remainder of the day along with my usual Monday morning stuff. I'm about to head home now to go to Tesco for the week and then while away an evening without Rachel, who doesn't get back until Sunday.

[17:30] Happy birthday to my brother! Hopefully I'll get a chance to call him today. We've been having a busy one today sorting out things ready for the power down this evening. I cycled over to the data center where this is taking place twice as the workstation I reinstalled had issues with its networking after I reinstalled it as RHEL7 (was RHEL6). All of this afternoon we've been gleefully shutting down servers, fully aware that at least a few won't power up cleanly on Sunday (when I won't be here) or Monday (when I will). There are bound to be hardware issues that I have to open calls about. Hopefully nothing data-destructive will happen, though.

In a moment I'll be leaving work to head to London to have dinner on my own and then head to a hotel for two nights with Rachel and her parents (although they're in a different room, obviously). On Saturday I'll be doing my run in a London park while Rachel plays hockey and her parents go to a museum or something. Then we all have dinner together in the evening. On Sunday morning Rachel and I are going to attempt to run before breakfast finishes at the hotel, and then spend a bit of time together before she flies off to Africa for a week. I'll end up back home on Sunday night before heading into work on Monday morning early enough to get some servers back before users need them, probably.

[17:30] For being here later than I should be, it's not like a lot happened today. The Nessus scan is still running, and looks like it might be going for a while yet. I think it's going very slowly now and doing only a few hosts, probably workstations, at this point. We'll have to stop it tomorrow lunchtime if for no other reason than we don't want it being a complicating factor when we start powering down servers for the weekend power work at one of the server rooms.

Over lunch time I did the week's hard session (8x1km at 3:50/km) and just about managed it, although I was so tired towards the end I had trouble remembering/working out if I'd done the right amount. Turns out I had, thankfully, but it was pretty confusing for my oxygen-starved brain. After I'd had some lunch and a drink I cycled over to the more remote server room to do a brief bit of hardware maintenance. Other than that today has been about keeping things runnning and getting ready for tomorrow, which is probably going to be a bit hit and miss as to how well everything goes. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to leave before everything gets powered down and I was hoping to meet Rachel and her parents in London before they went to see a play, but it doesn't look like that's going to happened. However, I am aiming to get to the hotel we're all staying at at least in time to eat dinner at a sensible-ish time. For now though, I'm going home to see if I can find my favourite hat, which seems to have gone missing. Hopefully it's just behind a radiator or something.

[17:05] Well it's a day and a working day later and the Nessus scan is still going. The good news is that it doesn't seem to be affecting normal network traffic, so that's something. In other news I finally got the HDD that went AWOL yesterday and was able to get it installed, apparently without any hitches at all, which was nice. Over lunch time I did a gentle recovery run, which was also nice. And this afternoon I've mainly been trying to think about the switch off schedule for Friday afternoon/evening which I won't be around for the latter part of as I'm heading to London to see Rachel and her parents for the weekend. Oh, and another server managed to break its fan/blower tray, so I've hopefully got a replacement coming for that tomorrow, which I'll have to cycle over and fit.

I guess that's about it, really. Not a lot going on for me otherwise.

[17:40] Headed into work this morning to start the Nessus scan of the entire network I'm 'responsible' for. After starting it dead on 09:30 it's still going. I anticipate that it'll finish some time around about 19:30 this evening. Possibly later. Hopefully it won't get in the way of the backup window. In any event, other than watching that all day I didn't get to replace a HDD in a fairly vital server as the company shipping the hard drive sent it to the wrong address (still within my organisation) so I'm stuck waiting on the internal mail service to get it to me. This will hopefully happen tomorrow morning, although I had been thinking it would be just after lunch today. So basically after I got back from doing my hill reps. run next to the cemetery. But no.

I've ordered a new rear cassette for the bike as the chain seems to be slipping on at least two of the gears at the back there due to wear. It seems a shame considering probably the seven other gears are still perfectly usable. I'll need to bother Cormac for a chain whip and cassette tool at some point as I don't own them myself. Other than that the day has been spent thinking about the massive power down we'll be doing on Friday afternoon (when I'd been hoping to leave early to get to London to see Rachel) in preparation for the first weekend of power work at one of our server rooms (same thing will be happening the following weekend, too).

[17:40] So... I have heating again. Although I shouldn't celebrate too much in case it goes wrong again. I'm now going to be eternally paranoid about going home to a cold house because it has gone wrong again. Anyway, the plumber arrived after about thirty minutes of me cooling down after cycling home at the speed of sound. He fitted the parts (one of which I don't think I needed to have bought, so I kept the old one as a spare) and everything fired up. He did some tests and things look to be pretty efficient in terms of gas burning. He did discover an issue with the flue, but that should be solved at the end of May when I have the thing extended due to the EWI being fitted. Rachel then arrived later in the evening and there was much rejoicing. On Saturday we didn't get up all that early, which was lovely. Then we headed into town to pick out some new glasses frames for me. By the time that was done we only really had time to go and get a GBK burger for lunch (delicious) and then I saw Rachel off for her train to play hockey back in Croydon. I cycled home and spent some time cleaning and tidying the house a bit, doing the washing up, and then putting a new chain and outer chain ring on the bike. I definitely need to get a new cassette (despite pretty much all but one of the rings being fine), but I think it can wait a few weeks. I also went to Tesco so we didn't have to do it later. Rachel got back from her hockey game and heroic cleaning up and turning around to leave her house late in the evening, so we had a nice jacket potato dinner and then went to bed as soon as we'd digested. On Sunday morning we ran a semi-trail/road marathon. While an organised race with numbers and everything we more ran it as a full distance training run. I was looking forward to a nice steady 5:00/km pace for the whole way round (accounting for terrain, contours, road crossings, and mud) but really felt like I was dragging badly by around 30km in (a marathon is 42.2km). We ran together, with two friends (one of them Max, but the other an old rowing friend, too). Max vanished off with about 7km or so to go and finished a minute under my target time. We finished three minutes over my target time, which was a bit disappointing. Not a lot I can do about that, really. After getting clean and fed at the start/finish point we cycled home and spent the rest of the day groaning quietly on the sofa and watching Mad Men and Attenborough documentaries.

Unfortunately Rachel needed to be away horribly early this morning, so that, coupled with leg ache, meant that neither of us slept all that well last night. However, she got on her way and I managed a fitful doze for a few more hours before I got up. At work I fought a few small fires, arranged for a new part to be delivered tomorrow (hopefully before something else goes wrong in that area) and prepared for the Nessus scan I should have run last Tuesday (when this time last week I managed to destroy the server the scanner was installed on). Over lunch, having sent a very detailed race report to my coach, I didn't run the hill reps. he'd initially had me down for, but graciously gave me a 30min recovery run instead, which I happily nailed (rather than running faster than asked for). Here's hoping I feel a bit more spritely for tomorrow's actual hill repos. session.

I'm heading home now, to do more of what I was advised by my coach: keep off my feet and relax. Although around 20:00 I'm apparently going to help the other friend we ran with yesterday move a bed around his house.

[14:40] Plumber just called and wants me home so he can fit the replacement parts, so no entry today. Have a good weekend. I'll be running a gentle marathon.

[16:15] Things started badly this morning when I had my first bike puncture in a while (rear). Luckily it was within five minutes walk of the cycle shop I prefer. After a bit of pleading they agreed to put a new inner tube in and I was on my way in less than fifteen minutes, which was great. At work I settled down to do a healthy amount of VM reconfiguration which resulted in twenty being deleted and two created, with two being recreated with new details. Other than some Ansible woes everything seemed to go pretty smoothly. Which was nice.

Over lunch time I had a call with my coach who set my mind at ease a bit with regard to my half marathon performance and upcoming marathon performance. He also had some useful advice for the marathon I'm running this weekend.

I'm now leaving early to go to the cinema as I've had it up here with our absolutely useless helpdesk system.

[17:40] It was nice to get in this morning and know that the server I'd rebuilt yesterday was working fine. I also somehow managed to turn off my alarm yesterday at some point so woke at around 07:35 thinking that it was far brighter outside than it should have been without the radio having come on. Luckily I wasn't late (especially as I can't shower at home at the moment, more on that in a moment), so could get up, do all the morning stuff and still get to work on time. The morning went smoothly, with me doing this and that to keep the place ticking over. I had a few niggles with Ansible, but nothing too annoying. Over lunch I went to the track to actually run around the 1km perimeter path eight times, but it was blocked off due to to ground work taking place. This meant that I ended up back on the track after all, which might have contributed to my reasonably good times for the remaining seven 1km intervals. After the half marathon on Sunday and how I felt immediately afterwards (fine), I think I need to start working on overriding - or at least recalibrating - what I should think/feel when I've been running hard for a period of time. Previously the feeling I was feeling would mean I was close to bonking/crashing/running out of energy and having to slow down. However, all this training appears to have pushed back that point, possibly by some considerable distance. I perhaps need to start thinking about continuing to push for longer, and working out where my new 'breaking' point is. Before the Manchester Marathon if at all possible.

In other news, my boiler remains broken. I called the plumber who's ordering parts for it at the moment and he's had trouble getting them from the manufacturer. There's an outside chance they'll arrive on Friday, in which case he'll try to come over on Friday (afternoon?) and fit them and get me back up and running for the weekend. We'll see, though.

[18:20] I was really grateful that Rachel arrived home within five minutes of me last night. After yesterday's debacle it was nice to have some company and a hug or two. I even managed to forget how stupid I'd been for a while, and how cold it is in the house without heating for the fourth day in a row. We had dinner quite soon after we got home, watched the second half of Out of Africa (not the film I thought it was), and then went to bed in the cold. Although it was nice to not be cold for long.

This morning we both left for work and, at least in my case, enjoyed it not being quite as cold as it has been previously. At work my colleagues and I tried for an hour or to to capitalise on the progress I made late last night, but to no avail. In the end I just started the build of a new (updated) VM, and hoped that the backups that we did have would be enough to rebuild everything. After a few hours of work, running an hour of fartleks over lunch, and a lot of help from other people I'm pleased to report that I think I have everything back the way it was before, only on RHEL7 rather than RHEL6, and with a larger amount of storage capacity (which is only what I was aiming for at the beginning of this whole adventure). I've learned a useful and valuable lesson about snapshotting whenever I might be doing something that could mess things up, and I've got this server added to the Veeam backup system, too, which does that sort of thing automatically every night anyway.

Now it's time to go home and have a relaxing, and longer, evening.

[19:35] The run this weekend was overshadowed by my messing up severely at work this morning and managing to break a rather useful VM in what is probably a terminal way. I and a colleage have spent most of the day trying to rescue it, but it's not looking all that good at this point in the day. Which is frustrating as I really need to go home soon to meet Rachel who's wonderfully decided to come back again this evening.

We had a great, but cold, weekend together. The boiler is definitely broken and won't be fixed until later this week. This meant the whole weekend the house was below 9 degrees centigrade. This wasn't all that pleasant, but we got by with lots of layers, blankets, hot drinks, and clothes in bed. On Sunday we ran a half marathon. I managed to stay ahead of her, and run a pretty good time, but it was still slower than last year, and slower again than the year before. Maybe I've had my peak. On the plus side I recovered incredibly quickly from it, which could mean that I could and should have pushed harder. It's something I'll discuss with my coach on Wednesday lunch time.

[16:55] Happily, Rachel arrived safely last night, by bike, in the cold and wind (but thankfully no snow). The heating continued to work (although I'm a little worried it might be broken as it should have been on during the day today), although when we headed upstairs the house was as cold as ever relative to downstairs. This morning we had a hard time getting up as we were both pretty shattered. For my own part I was not only tired, but at some point during my broken night of sleep the top of my right foot very close to the ankle really started to hurt, such that I couldn't point my foot, and I'm a little concerned I won't be able to run the half marathon on Sunday morning. I've been stretching and moving it all of today, will do so more tonight and take it easy tomorrow, too. Rachel worked from home today, although she might have gone for a run and a Tesco trip at some point, I'm not sure. If her hockey match back in London hadn't been cancelled tomorrow she also would have taken a short train journey up the line to the next stop to collect her hockey stick, boots, and shinpads which she left on the train last night. Happily (sort of) hockey has been cancelled so we're going to take a trip together tomorrow to collect her stuff and also have lunch there (it's a nice place). The plan for tomorrow is: get up, do a 30 minute "leg loosener" if my foot feels good, otherwise do something else, have a shower, go and get my hair cut (probably a bad idea to lose insulation on the top of my head in this weather, but I really do need a trim), come home, have another shower, then head to the closer train station, maybe take the bikes on the train, get to the station, ascertain that her stuff is in lost property, go for lunch, come back to the station, collect stuff, train back, hunker down at home for the rest of the day and get ready for Sunday. Sunday morning will see a fairly early cycle to the boat house where we'll leave our stuff and keep warm for as long as possible. Then it'll be over the river, into the start area, and then run. I may have to take an ibuprofen or two to ensure that I don't feel my foot until afterwards. The remainder of Sunday may involve a trip to Tesco after lunch, but that's about it.

I'll tell you everything that happens (or doesn't!) on Monday. For now I'm off to collect our race numbers/packs, and then head home in the snow.

[17:35] A whole evening of heat was available to me when I got home at around 16:00 yesterday. The boiler guy had got everything up and running again, which was great. There are two replacement parts he needs to fit in a few weeks, but everything should keep going until then, apparently. I left the radiators on all evening and eventually the house heated up nicely. Well the downstairs did. The upstairs (and the shower room) remains stubbornly chilly in winter and something I really hope is fixed by the installation of the EWI in a few months. I had a good chat with the guy and we even discussed replacing two of the radiators upstairs which really are too small for the rooms they're trying (and desperately failing) to heat. Not sure when that'll happen, but as he was the person who fitted all the heating in the house I'll probably go with him as he'll know most about what's hidden from sight under the floors, etc.

Anyway, that's the heating fixed for the time being. Not so much Rachel's boiler, which I hear is pretty broken at the moment. Plus there being issues surrounding getting it repaired and/or parts for it. It may be time for a new one. At least she's had the leak in it stopped, which is a positive. As she lives above someone else there's very little chance of her pipes freezing while she has no heating or hot water. Her shower is electric, luckily. Unlike mine. Although I was having all of my showers at work anyway given that for three weeks I didn't have a shower at home, and I was running pretty much every lunchtime.

Workwise there's been some stuff going on. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a whole load of finicky stuff that I've had to do repeatedly to iron out all of the tiny little issues. Over lunch I went out in the cold, windy, snowy (a bit) weather, and ran for an hour at less than half marathon race pace, with a view to running a little bit faster (I hope) this weekend.

Rachel's coming to see me tonight and, I think, working from (my) home tomorrow, which'll be lovely. Then she'll be running a little tomorrow (to pick up her bike, as she'll be getting a taxi home tonight), and we'll go and collect our race packs tomorrow afternoon after I finish work. For now though I'm going to head home as safely as I can.